Message Bus aims to improve email, kill spam

Fighting spam is a personal mission for Message Bus CEO Jeremy LaTrasse

May 17, 2013, 3:00am PDT
Patrick HogeReporter- San Francisco Business Times
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Message Bus is built for speed.

The Corte Madera startup is run by CEO Jeremy LaTrasse, a member of Twitter Inc.’s founding team, and it spent more than two years constructing its cloud messaging infrastructure and services technology, launching to the public in November.

The result, LaTrasse says, is the first business that enables customers to send billions of messages monthly across email, mobile and social channels, all the while helping to keep clients off blacklists so that their transactional and marketing messages get received.

“A transportation metaphor comes to mind every time I think about this,” said LaTrasse. “It’s like you have a dusty road when you need an eight-lane superhighway. You can’t build it overnight.”

So far, Message Bus has about three dozen customers ranging from small to large, including American Greetings and MyFitnessPal.

The company has raised $14 million in venture capital, including an $11 million round seven months ago that was led by North Bridge Venture Partners, with True Ventures, Ignition Partners, James Lindenbaum, Tim Young and Jesse Robbins also investing.

LaTrasse said Message Bus, now 35 people strong, will likely double headcount over the coming year and possibly open a sales office in San Francisco.

While he made a fortune at Twitter, leaving in 2010, the retiring life was not for LaTrasse, who came up with the idea for Message Bus while helping other startups while wrestling with email hardware, software and policies.

About 85 percent of the 110 trillion emails sent annually worldwide are junk or spam, and companies have to be careful not to get blocked from messaging current or potential customers by the operators of the email channels, such as email service providers AOL, Google and Microsoft, LaTrasse said.

That sheer waste of resources that the deluge of bum email causes bugs LaTrasse, who has made it his mission to fight spam.

The value pitch Message Bus makes is that it is extremely hard to keep up with all of the policy changes that the major email service providers make in an effort to defeat spam, while new platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and mobile services offer their own challenges.

Charging per message, Message Bus promises to clean up a company’s record if it’s blacklisted by email recipients and to save money for customers that don’t have to buy or maintain their own servers.

Message Bus serves all messaging platforms, and it keeps track of what happens to each missive in real time so as to prevent things like continuing to message a person who has not responded. It offers what it calls the first-ever guarantee of on-time delivery of transactional and event-triggered emails.

Chris Voce, an analyst with Forrester Research, praised Message Bus particularly for its ability to alert customers when anyone tries to hijack their brands for nefarious purposes.

He also said the company is impressive because it runs on multiple clouds — including San Francisco-based Joyent — which makes the platform scalable and resilient.

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